The Quran

Commentaries for 4.32

An Nisa (The women) - النساء

4.32 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And covet not the thing in which Allah hath made some of you excel others) Allah says: a man should not covet the wealth, mount or wife of his brother nor, in fact, anything that his brother may possess. Rather you should ask of Allah abundant bounty and say: “O Allah provide us with the like of, or better than, what you have provided him with”, while consigning the matter to Allah. It is also said that this verse was revealed about Umm Salamah, the wife of the Prophet (pbuh) because she said to him: “if only it is prescribed unto us as it is prescribed unto men so that we get rewarded as men do”. Allah prohibited such talk, saying: covet not the thing in which Allah has made a group of you excel over others, such as praying in congregation, attending the Friday Prayer, participating in military expeditions, jihad, enjoining good and forbidding evil. In this verse (some of you) and (others) refers to men and women. Allah then explained the reward that men and women earn for their works, saying: (Unto men a fortune) a reward (from that which they have earned) of works of goodness, (and unto women a fortune) a reward (from that which they have earned) of works of goodness in their homes. (But ask Allah of His bounty) Ask Allah to give you success and protection. (Lo! Allah is ever Knower of all things) good and bad, reward and punishment, success and otherwise.
4.32 Asrar - Kashf Al-Asrar
Do not wish for that whereby God has preferred some of you over others. Men shall have a portion of what they have earned, and women shall have a portion of what they have earned. But ask God of His bounty.
Abū Bakr Kattānī said, “When someone has the opinion that he will arrive without expending effort, he is a wisher, and when someone has the opinion that he will arrive by expending effort, he is a drudge.”
Whoever fancies that he will reach the goal without toiling is a wisher, and “The incapable are those who follow their own caprice and wish for God.” Whoever fancies that he will reach the Sought by toil and by seeking the Sought is a drudge.
Shaykh al-Islām Anṣārī said, “He is not found by seeking, but the seeker finds. Until he finds Him, he will not seek. Whatever can be found by seeking is of little worth. The servant finds the Real before the seeking, but for him seeking is the earliest step. The recognizer finds seeking from finding, not finding from seeking. In the same way, the obedient person finds obedience from self-purification, not self-purification from obedience; he finds the cause from the meaning, not the meaning from the cause. O God, since finding You is before the seeking and the seeker, I am seeking because unsettledness has overpowered me. The seeker is seeking and the Sought is obtained before the seeking. This is a most marvelous business! What is even more marvelous is
that finding has become hard cash when seeking has not yet arisen. The Real is seen but the curtain of exaltedness is in place.”
You are a sea of loveliness, a wave of beauty, the law of generous acts, the essence of life.
The lovers seeking You are full of longing like Alexander seeking the water of life.
It has also been said that the meaning of the verse is this: “You wish for the station of the masters without traveling in their path, clinging to their conduct, and practicing their practices.”4 You want the state of the great ones, but you have not gone on the great ones' road. You search for the Kaabah of union with eyes that have not undertaken struggle. You see the great good fortune of the friends, but you have not seen their tribulation.
“Your trouble is wishing that you could be like those who have taken trouble.” You fancy that the pen of the covenant was written easily for the passionate, that it wrote the inscription of friendship on their hearts gratis. But they have been wounded in spirit and heart at every moment, and they have tasted a draft laced with poison.
How many nights for the sake of seeing You
have I been slapped in the head by the dogs of Your street!
But not just anyone is suited for His wounds, and not just anyone is worthy of suffering His pain. May God's mercy be upon those chevaliers who have made their spirits the target of His trial's arrow and recognized their hearts as the litter for His pain's burden! Then, in that trial and sorrow, they hum this tune:
If my spirit is worthy of suffering your pain,
this share of passion's good fortune is enough for me.
Yes, everyone's wound is in the measure of his faith, and everyone's burden is in the measure of his strength. Whenever someone's strength is greater, his burden is heavier. This is the secret of the verse in which He says,
4.32 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
Do not covet that in which God has preferred some of you above others, in the way of worldly affairs or religion, lest it lead to mutual envy and hatred. To men a share from, a reward for, what they have earned, for their acts in the struggle and so on, and to women a share from what they have earned, by way of being obedient to their spouses and guarding their private parts: this was revealed when Umm Salama said: ‘Would that we were men, so that we could join the struggle and receive the reward they receive!’ And ask (read wa-s’alū or wa-salū) God of His bounty, what you need and He will give it to you; God is ever Knower of all things, including where merit is deserved and that for which you ask.
4.32 Kashani - Kashani
Do not covet that in which God has preferred some of you above others, in the way of perfections that are appointed in accordance with the original forms of preparedness, for every preparedness entails in itself from pre-eternity a perfection and a felicity that corresponds to it. The actualisation of such a specific perfection to some other [than the one specified] is impossible, which is why it is referred to with the expression 'to covet', which is when a person demands what cannot be actualised for him because of the lack of any similarity. To men, that is, to those individuals who have arrived, a share from what they have earned, by the light of their original preparedness, and to women, that is, the deficient ones who fall short of the arrival, a share from what they have earned, commensurate with their preparedness. And ask God of His bounty, that is, ask Him to effuse a perfection that is entailed by your preparedness through purgation and purification so that nothing should come between you and Him that would cause you to be veiled and to thus be chastised by the fires of privation from Him. God is ever Knower of all things, that are unknown to you latent as they are in potentiality in your preparednesses, and answers your call in accordance with what is appropriate for you, as He says: And He gives you of all that you ask of Him [Q. 14:34], that is, [He responds to you] in the tongue of [your] preparedness by which none call on Him but He responds to them, as He says: And your Lord has said, 'Call on Me and I will respond to you' [Q. 40:60].
4.32 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Do Not Wish for the Things Which Allah has Made Some Others to Excel In
Imam Ahmad recorded that Umm Salamah said, "O Messenger of Allah! Men go to battle, but we do not go to battle, and we earn one-half of the inheritance (that men get).'' Allah sent down,
وَلاَ تَتَمَنَّوْاْ مَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بِهِ بَعْضَكُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ
(And wish not for the things in which Allah has made some of you to excel others). At-Tirmidhi also recorded this Hadith. Allah's statement,
لِّلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبُواْ وَلِلنِّسَآءِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبْنَ
(For men there is reward for what they have earned, (and likewise) for women there is reward for what they have earned,) indicates, according to Ibn Jarir, that each person will earn his wages for his works, a reward if his deeds are good, and punishment if his deeds are evil. It was also reported that this Ayah is talking about inheritance, indicating the fact that each person will get his due share of the inheritance, as Al-Walibi reported from Ibn `Abbas. Allah then directed the servants to what benefits them,
وَاسْأَلُواْ اللَّهَ مِن فَضْلِهِ
(and ask Allah of His Bounty.)Therefore, the Ayah states, "Do not wish for what other people were endowed with over you, for this is a decision that will come to pass, and wishing does not change its decree. However, ask Me of My favor and I will grant it to you, for I Am Most Generous and Most Giving.'' Allah then said,
إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَىْءٍ عَلِيماً
(Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knower of everything.) meaning, Allah knows who deserves this life, and so He gives him riches, and whoever deserves poverty, He makes him poor. He also knows who deserves the Hereafter, and He directs him to perform the deeds that will help him to be sucessful in it, and whoever deserves failure, He prevents him from achieving righteousness and what leads to it. Hence, Allah said, m
إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَىْءٍ عَلِيماً
(Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knower of everything).
4.32 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
In this verse Allah has given a very important moral instruction, which, if observed, would bring great peace in the troubled social life of today. Allah has taught people not to be covetous for and be envious of the possessions of others, for He has not; in His wisdom, created all men alike. But for this disparity life would have become dull.
As Allah has perfect knowledge of everything, He has created one beautiful and another ugly. He has given to one a melodious voice and to another a harsh voice. He has made one of strong physique and another of weak constitution. He has endowed one with some good qualities of mind and body and another with other qualities. He has created one in straitened and another in opulent circumstances. He has provided one with ample resources and another with scanty ones. A little thinking will convince a person that the variety in human culture is due only to those very differences and distinctions which are based on wisdom and perfect knowledge. That is why chaos of one sort or the other results whenever people artificially try either to aggravate these differences and distinctions or to eliminate them totally. The human tendency to envy others because of their superiority in anything generates jealousy, cut-throat competition, enmity, class struggle and the like with the resulting consequences. One who suffers from such a mentality tries to grab unlawfully that which Allah has not given him through His bounty. In this verse Allah has advised the Muslims to avoid such a mentality and keep themselves free from envying others. One should, however, pray to Allah for His bounty, for He will bestow upon him whatever He considers proper for him, because He has perfect knowledge of everything.
As regards "The men shall have their due share according to what they have earned, and the women shall have their share according to what they have earned," in my opinion it means that women should not envy men and men should not envy women because of any superiority the one has over the other because of Allah's bounty. They should make full use of whatever Allah has given them and rest assured that each one will get one's due share according to what good or evil one earns and of the same quality that one deserves.
4.32 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
Do not covet that in which God has preferred some of you above others. To men a share from what they have earned and to women a share from what they have earned. And ask God of His bounty; God is ever Knower of all things. In terms of one's moral behavior lisān al-muʿālama the command is to toil not covet. In terms of declaring God's unity lisān al-tawḥīd the command is to the [divine] decree and judgment not [human] desire and wants. It is said “Travel the road of those who precede you in upholding the right of God but do not demand to obtain what they have been selected for from the favor of God. Concern yourselves with the right of your Protector mawlākum not with following your personal whims hawākum and preferring what you desire munākum.” It is said “do not covet the station of [spiritual] masters without traveling their paths cleaving to their course and doing what they do for this way of thinking [that is coveting] is an outrageous deviation from what is right.” It is said “Be a seeker of [God's] rights not a seeker of your portion or your rights. For if you seek the portion you wish for yourself in this world or the next you have unconsciously added partners to your profession of God's unity.” It is said “do not covet stations of men for each has a station appropriate before God.” There are only so many [men with stations] and until someone has died his place will not be inherited by another. God most high said “He has made you successors” [6:165 35:39] and the successor is the one who succeeds the one who came before him. If you covet the station of one of the friends [of God] it is as if you are seeking to hasten his passing in all or in part of what you covet and this is not a harmless attitude. It is said that your extinction beneath the streams of His decree according to what has already been established by His choice is more fortunate for you than [your] seeking to obtain your desires since your ruin may lie in the object of your desire. It is said that if one's outward nature has not been refined through the different kinds of moral behavior muʿāmalāt one's inward nature has [likewise] not been refined by the different aspects of the mutual waystations munāzalāt.
45 How then could one hope to obtain intimate communications muwāṣalāt-that would be preposterous! And ask God of His bounty: The distinction between coveting and asking for His bounty has several aspects: Coveting something is accompanied by heedlessness of your Lord so you covet in your heart the existence of that thing without anticipating it [as coming] from God. But when you ask God it is impossible for you not to remember Him. Another [sense of the verse] is [the notion that] the questioner does not consider himself entitled to anything. Rather what causes him to implore and beseech is purely spiritual desire ṣidq al-irāda-the one who covets is not included in this group. Another [sense of the verse] is [the idea] that God prohibits coveting the favor He has granted to someone other than you for this would mean that He would take what He has given your companion and give it to you. But He does allow you to ask of His bounty in giving you the like of what He has given your companion. It is said “do not covet the gift but ask God to give you from His bounty contentment with not receiving the gift. That is more perfect than the gift for surely emancipation from the bondage of things is better than owning them.”
4.32 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(And covet not the thing in which Allah hath made some of you excel others…) [4:32] Isma‘il ibn Abi al-Qasim al-Sufi informed us> Isma‘il ibn Najid> Ja‘far ibn Muhammad ibn Sawwar> Qutaybah> Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah> Ibn Abi Najih> Mujahid who reported that Umm Salamah asked: “O Messenger of Allah! [how is it that] the men go out in military conquests and we do not; and how come we have half of the inheritance”. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse (And covet not the thing in which Allah hath made some of you excel others). Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz informed us> Muhammad ibn al-Husayn> Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn Yazid> Ishaq ibn Ibrahim> ‘Attab ibn Bashir> Khusayf> ‘Ikrimah who reported that the women asked about Jihad, saying: “We wish that Allah had prescribed military conquest for us so that we acquire the same reward that men do”, and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse (And covet not the thing in which Allah hath made some of you excel others). Said Qatadah and al-Suddi: “When the words of Allah (… unto the male the equivalent of the share of two females…) [4:176], the men said: ‘We hope that we shall be preferred over women through our rewards in the Afterlife just as we were preferred over them in the division of estate so that our reward is double the reward of women’. The women, on the other hand, said: ‘We hope that our onus will be half that of men in the Afterlife just as our share of estate is half that of men in this world’. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed (And covet not the thing in which Allah hath made some of you excel others)”.